The Colorado Rockies have had a difficult time filling a starting rotation thanks to injuries galore and underperformance. Starting depth has been a question mark for years and as the Rockies cycle in rookies like Karl Kauffmann or veterans like Chase Anderson, they find themselves trying to think outside the box and devise a way to fit a square block in a circle hole.
That’s where Dinelson Lamet comes into the conversation.
Manager Bud Black told MLB.com’s Thomas Harding the Rockies are “contemplating the possibility” of moving Lamet back into a starting role. His 12.66 ERA in 10 2⁄3 innings this season may give you reason to pause, but it is definitely worth considering because of the needs of the team as well as Lamet’s past as a starter.
When Lamet debuted with the San Diego Padres in 2017 he pitched 114 1⁄3 innings across 21 starts with a 4.57 ERA and 1.242 WHIP. In all but four starts that season, Lamet worked at least five innings, including two starts in which he pitched seven. He also recorded 10 quality starts that season, showcasing that the rookie had plenty of potential in the rotation.
Unfortunately, injuries became a running theme for Lamet during his time with the Padres. Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the 2018 season but when he returned in 2019 he was able to make 14 starts to the tune of a 4.07 ERA across 73 innings of work. The best seemed to be yet to come during the shortened 2020 season.
Lamet was firing on all cylinders and recorded a minuscule 2.07 ERA in 12 starts with an ERA+ of 201, striking out 34.8% of batters faced and walking 7.5% with a 36.9% ground ball rate in the truncated season. Those efforts earned him a fourth-place finish in the Cy Young voting. Elbow troubles again flared up on Lamet late in the 2020 season and prevented him from pitching in the postseason for the Padres.
The injuries landed him on the injured list at the start of the 2021 season and once he returned he found his spot with the team in the rotation almost non-existent. If you recall, the Padres went on a trading spree prior to the 2021 season, adding Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove. They gave Lamet nine starts that season but he struggled when he returned from injury, and with younger players like Chris Paddack and Ryan Weathers around, once he ended up on the injured list again with forearm inflammation in June he was relegated to the bullpen.
2022 saw Lamet used exclusively out of the bullpen and saw his ERA balloon to 9.49 across 19 games with the Padres who then traded him to the Brewers at the deadline who then subsequently released him and that’s how the Rockies came to claim him and use him as a reliever for the rest of last season.
Lamet did well as a reliever with the Rockies, which is why they signed him to a $5 million contract to avoid arbitration but now they find themselves desperate to see if they can squeeze a different kind of value out of him.
So how can he help?
If Lamet hadn’t been injured at the time he was, he may have been able to stick in the rotation with the Padres. But those factors and the team's desire to improve their rotation, he lost his spot to “better” pitchers. His career has been thrown out of rhythm and it could be that a return to starting could help Lamet bounce back from his awful performance this season.
In his rehab down with Triple-A Albuquerque, the Rockies are hoping to stretch Lamet out so that he could potentially be used as a starter, just as they did with Connor Seabold. The team has him working on shortening his stride on his delivery in the hopes it can benefit and improve the command of his pitches and the zone. So far, the results have been favorable. In his first outing, he pitched two innings of one-run ball and in his second outing, he tossed four perfect innings with four strikeouts.
“I don’t like starting — I love it.” Lamet told Harding, “But it all depends what the team wants.” There are some players that just thrive when given a chance to start as opposed to working as a reliever. There is a different mindset to starting and Lamet may not be best suited for that right now. He has plenty of life left in his arm and has a strong three-pitch mix, including a slider, that could play better over multiple innings where he can fine-tune them and utilize more at will instead of just one inning.
He gets his ground balls, he can get his strikeouts, and he can limit home runs and walks. There is merit in letting him start once again with the Rockies. If he regains some form and shows some promise then his value could increase and the Rockies could flip him for something they need at the trade deadline. If not, you tried and can cut him loose.
It may be a bit of a risk and a gamble to hope he finds that healthy 2020 form again, but to me, it’s exactly the kind of risk the team needs to take to try something new and find out if they have anything special to gain from it. Considering the status of the rotation, beggars can’t be choosers and they might as well give him a chance.
★ ★ ★
During Tuesday night’s game, Charlie Blackmon passed Larry Walker in all-time doubles for the franchise. Thomas Harding talked to Chuck and several of his teammates and his manager to reflect on his career and the monumental feat.
There are some good little tidbits in Patrick Saunders’ mailbag. It’s still unclear if Blackmon retires after this season, Profar could end up on the trading block, the Rockies are skeptical of Nolan Jones's flashy offense in Albuquerque and are more focused on his corner infield defense. Also, we still don’t know how the Rockies will be televised next year, but MLB will likely take over the rights and distribution for 2024.
★ ★ ★
On the Farm
Ty Blach started on the mound for the Isotopes, allowing one run in four innings with four strikeouts. Logan Allen also turned in three solid innings of relief allowing just one run. Elehuris Montero had a three-hit, three-RBI night, including a home run that gave Albuquerque a chance to reveal their new home run celebration.
We’ve got a new home run celly in ABQ!! pic.twitter.com/CP7niaT9Xd— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) May 25, 2023
Despite scoring nine runs on 10 hits, Hartford pitching in the first half of the game sealed their fate. Chris McMahon started on the mound, lasting three innings and allowing six runs, four earned, on seven hits. He was followed by Mitchell Kilkenny who ended up allowing five runs, four earned, in 1 1⁄3 innings. Offensively, Niko Decolati, Drew Romo, and Eddy Diaz all had two hits. Zac Veen also managed to draw four walks.
Yanquiel Fernandez had a big night for Spokane, tallying four hits, including his 11th home run of the season. Other notable performances included Adael Amador’s three-hit night and Jordan Beck’s 13th home run of the season. Gabriel Hughes had a nice bounce-back start tossing five innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out eight.
Four errors on the night were a glaring culprit for the Grizzlies' loss on Wednesday. Blake Adams started on the mound and allowed just three earned runs, but gave up five in total because of errors. Offensively, the Grizzlies got a multi-hit game from Jesus Bugarin but scattered six hits as a team.
★ ★ ★
Please keep in mind our Purple Row Community Guidelines when you’re commenting. Thanks